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Raising Young Children


burntwings
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Earlier tonight I was babysitting a 5 year old girl. I was putting her to bed, and she was talking about my contacts. She said "Your 'tacts are invisible, just like Jesus." And I just made an agreeing noise and told her it was time to go to sleep. Even though I'm AT LEAST 5 or 10 years away from having kids of my own, it got me thinking about what I will teach them about religion. It seems almost cruel to tell a little kid there's nothing bigger or more powerful out there; I don't want to take away something that makes them happy. But I definitely do NOT want my children brainwashed the way I was, and probably most of you all were too. I don't know; it's a tough issue I guess. I've always thought I would let my children make their own choices about religion, but parents have a HUGE influence in what those kids grow up to believe.

 

So for those of you with young kids, what do you tell them about god and religion? Anything?

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How is it almost cruel to tell a little kid that there is nothing bigger or more powerful than them?

 

I will probably never have kids, but if I did I would never raise them in the church. The church is just full of greed, hypocrisy, unthinking loyalty, superstition and other qualities that I wouldn't want them being around or picking up.

 

But as much as I would like to say that I would let them attend church/synagogue/whatever occasionally with friends or family I think I would freak out though. As much as I would like to be able to raise other human beings to be open minded and such, I still believe that religion is poison and would have trouble reconciling the two viewpoints. I would be interested in hearing how any ex-Cs here raised their children...does being an ex-Christian, do you believe, bias you attitude towards how you raise/d your children and, if so, how?

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I think it's almost cruel cause when you're that young, anything is possible. It's sorta like Santa Claus. I would NEVER tell a kid that Santa isn't real, because it destroys that happiness. Although god and santa are different. Idk, now I'm looking at it from a different viewpoint, and if you never tell the kid that there is a god, then it's not like you're taking anything away from him/her. And I think that's what I meant when I originally typed that. Like if, for the first 8 or so years of their life, you feed the kid all the same stuff that you KNOW isn't true, and then one day say "hey, you know how I told you there was a god who loves you and all that? Yeah, I lied. You're all alone," that's where the cruelty comes in.

I feel like I'm rambling and none of this is making any sense.

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Isn't it more healthy to teach your children that they themselves are their only limitation in life, not the will of some giant invisible hand that decides their fate for them?

 

I'd think a child like that would grow up with a pretty good perspective and would have a much better chance at success and happiness in their life.

 

This reminds me of the show Extras, which I watched yesterday. An atheist on the show encountered a Christian with cerebral palsy. The christian asked him "don't you believe in heaven? A place where everything bad turns good?"

 

The atheist bit his lip and grunted "yeah, heaven... it'll be great."

 

IOW, he feared taking away her hope but he was at the same time being a condescending ass and at the end of the show it bit him.

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Obviously, children will get exposed to religions and parents need to address that. That doesn't mean that any of those religions should be taught as true, but kids need to know what their friends and classmates might believe and why. They will hear "Jesus is the reason for the season" at Christmas time and they might need to understand that while many people believe that, not everyone does and it's not wrong if you don't.

 

I think it's a form of abuse to stick a child with an irrational foundation for a life in which he will need to be rational in order to prosper.

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For one, it is absolutley NOT cruel to not tell your children there's nothing more powerful out there. I can't even comprehend how someone could think that. In fact it's almost certainly the opposite. Why should a child be told anyone else is in control except themselves?? I found this to be the most liberating thing.

 

Since I am the designated young, never-been-into-religion-always-been-an-atheist on this board (maybe there's others), I can comment directly on this. I was raised in a secular manner. To do this properly....you simply use a light touch. You don't introduce them into anything to do with religion, unless they ask. Then, do so moderatley but make sure you put forth various faiths.

 

Before this even happens though....teach them about science. Be real. Don't dumb things down. Just be real. This is what my parents did for me. When the child asks what happens when you die....simply tell them what happens. Your body rots in the ground....but you won't feel it, because you're dead. If they ask what it's like to be dead, simply say that NO ONE REALLY KNOWS. And no one really can.

 

The best thing my parents ever told me about death is: You find out when you die. So don't worry about it, live a good life, live as long as you can, there's no rush to get to death, because no one comes back.

 

Basically, all will be 'answered' when you die, so don't worry about it in the meantime. At a young age, when you are told the truth in that no one actually knows anything about it, it's a lot easier not to fall for someones fear-trip on the street corner.

 

But yeah, science. That's the biggest thing. At a very early age I was always allowed to learn about the solar system, the universe and evolution and how what we know or are trying to know came to be. When you have all this knowledge, religion doesn't stand a chance.

 

Just remember that religion is not the normality. Religion is made up and applied later on. Your kids are born default-atheists. It's not hard to encourage them to stay 'pure' that way on their own will.

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For one, it is absolutley NOT cruel to not tell your children there's nothing more powerful out there. I can't even comprehend how someone could think that.

 

Ok, that's a triple negative... As long as we are talking about an imaginary deity, I agree that kids should not be indoctrinated. But there are lots of very real physical things that are more powerful than they are, some that are beneficial and some that are dangerous. These they should be told about, along with methods of dealing with them. Later on, show them religious stuff (because they will probably encounter friends and such that will already be indoctrinated) and use some simple examples to show them why it is not real (they understand make-believe really well) and why religion can be harmful.

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Since I am the designated young, never-been-into-religion-always-been-an-atheist on this board (maybe there's others), I can comment directly on this. I was raised in a secular manner. To do this properly....you simply use a light touch. You don't introduce them into anything to do with religion, unless they ask. Then, do so moderatley but make sure you put forth various faiths.

 

Before this even happens though....teach them about science. Be real. Don't dumb things down. Just be real. This is what my parents did for me. When the child asks what happens when you die....simply tell them what happens. Your body rots in the ground....but you won't feel it, because you're dead. If they ask what it's like to be dead, simply say that NO ONE REALLY KNOWS. And no one really can.

 

The best thing my parents ever told me about death is: You find out when you die. So don't worry about it, live a good life, live as long as you can, there's no rush to get to death, because no one comes back.

 

Basically, all will be 'answered' when you die, so don't worry about it in the meantime. At a young age, when you are told the truth in that no one actually knows anything about it, it's a lot easier not to fall for someones fear-trip on the street corner.

 

This has always been my plan for children....it's just the HowTo part that I've been focusing on lately. Honestly, I don't even know why I've spent so much time thinking about since I am years away from becoming a mother.

 

But growing up in the Bible Belt, I've seen what happens to kids who AREN'T raised as Christians. In my second grade class, there were two kids who stayed seated during the pledge every morning cause of the phrase "under god" and nobody liked them. They were the BadKids in the class. Even the teacher treated them differently. And even when you get a little older, there are still kids who will absolutely refuse to have anything to do with a non-Christian. Which wouldn't be the type of friends I would want my kids to have anyway, but it's still not a pleasant feeling.

 

I guess a lot of these feeling are coming from my own lingering doubts. You know, what if I've made a huge mistake and somehow Christians are right....even though I'm already on a road to hell by defining myself as agnostic, I feel like my punishment would be that much bigger for turning children away too. And reading this, I realize how pathetic it sounds and it makes me wonder how long the doubting phase really lasts.

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Obviously, children will get exposed to religions and parents need to address that. That doesn't mean that any of those religions should be taught as true, but kids need to know what their friends and classmates might believe and why. They will hear "Jesus is the reason for the season" at Christmas time and they might need to understand that while many people believe that, not everyone does and it's not wrong if you don't.

 

I think it's a form of abuse to stick a child with an irrational foundation for a life in which he will need to be rational in order to prosper.

 

100 % agreed. Teaching a kid what a specific religion claims is good because it prepares the lil' one for meeting followers of that religion. Claiming "Faith XY is teh 0nly tr00th!!!111!!!", however, is beyond criminal. I say teach comparative religion... like the basics of the major religions, plus whatever other ones the youngster runs into... and let them decide for themselves.

 

And of course do teach them critical thinking skills at the same time, as soon as possible. Critical thinking, as I see it, is the most important skill one can have.

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Obviously, children will get exposed to religions and parents need to address that. That doesn't mean that any of those religions should be taught as true, but kids need to know what their friends and classmates might believe and why. They will hear "Jesus is the reason for the season" at Christmas time and they might need to understand that while many people believe that, not everyone does and it's not wrong if you don't.

 

I think it's a form of abuse to stick a child with an irrational foundation for a life in which he will need to be rational in order to prosper.

 

100 % agreed. Teaching a kid what a specific religion claims is good because it prepares the lil' one for meeting followers of that religion. Claiming "Faith XY is teh 0nly tr00th!!!111!!!", however, is beyond criminal. I say teach comparative religion... like the basics of the major religions, plus whatever other ones the youngster runs into... and let them decide for themselves.

 

And of course do teach them critical thinking skills at the same time, as soon as possible. Critical thinking, as I see it, is the most important skill one can have.

 

Here here.

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Before this even happens though....teach them about science. Be real. Don't dumb things down. Just be real. This is what my parents did for me. When the child asks what happens when you die....simply tell them what happens. Your body rots in the ground....but you won't feel it, because you're dead. If they ask what it's like to be dead, simply say that NO ONE REALLY KNOWS. And no one really can.

This. So very, very much this.

 

It never ceases to amaze me how so many parents are so quick to praise their child's intelligence only to neglect exactly that by giving a deflective non-answer to all their questions. And they wonder why their kids so often grow into the impression learning and knowledge aren't worth actively seeking out. I don't have any children of my own (nor any current intention to procreate), but it's been my experience most kids are a lot smarter than they're given credit for - even/especially the ones who seem more interested in frustrating everyone's efforts at making them "respectable" than in cracking so much as a comic book.

 

Something a lot of people apparently fail to grasp is, if one expects a person to behave like an adult, it stands to reason one should necessarily treat that person as such (at least initially). Otherwise that person may well (and rightly) feel (s)he's essentially been put on default probation for no reason. Guilty until proven innocent, as it were. It's an extremely rare individual who's going to react with anything other than indignation in that situation. I've spoken with a few "problem children" in my life. They were usually snide and sarcastic with me at first, until they realized I was speaking to them not as a problem nor even as a kid, but as a fully cognitive human being. Without fail, every one of them subsequently showed themselves to be bright, capable kids who had just never had anyone take them seriously and were either acting down to everyone's expectations or acting out in defiance of them.

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I think it's almost cruel cause when you're that young, anything is possible. It's sorta like Santa Claus. I would NEVER tell a kid that Santa isn't real, because it destroys that happiness. Although god and santa are different. Idk, now I'm looking at it from a different viewpoint, and if you never tell the kid that there is a god, then it's not like you're taking anything away from him/her. And I think that's what I meant when I originally typed that. Like if, for the first 8 or so years of their life, you feed the kid all the same stuff that you KNOW isn't true, and then one day say "hey, you know how I told you there was a god who loves you and all that? Yeah, I lied. You're all alone," that's where the cruelty comes in.

I feel like I'm rambling and none of this is making any sense.

 

Actually it doesn't destroy happiness, if you don't lie to them into believing in Santa in the first place. I raised my kids without a hint of Santa, except to explain what the legend consisted of when they wanted to know. I did raise my children to believe in God however, and that caused them a great deal of fear and grief -- especially for my oldest. I don't think my youngest ever really took it very seriously.

 

They are both grown men raising children of their own and are not teaching Santa or God. So far the children seem happy and normal.

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For one, it is absolutley NOT cruel to not tell your children there's nothing more powerful out there. I can't even comprehend how someone could think that.

 

Ok, that's a triple negative... As long as we are talking about an imaginary deity, I agree that kids should not be indoctrinated. But there are lots of very real physical things that are more powerful than they are, some that are beneficial and some that are dangerous. These they should be told about, along with methods of dealing with them. Later on, show them religious stuff (because they will probably encounter friends and such that will already be indoctrinated) and use some simple examples to show them why it is not real (they understand make-believe really well) and why religion can be harmful.

 

Yes it is hehe.

 

I'm talking about imaginary friends and anything that has no concrete evidence. I'm also talking about their emotional well being and such. Only THEY are in control, nothing else.

 

I think that they should absolutley be taught about the things out there that are more powerful and that will kill them. Like fast cars, big animals, poisonous things, etc. Don't dumb down what they can't control either.

 

Basically, tell them about anything that will actually have some effect on their lives. Hmm, but even that is complicated I guess....

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It's not terribly complicated. Ignorant/arrogant God Botherers can certainly have an effect on their lives, but that's no indication the god they presume to speak and act for has anything to do with it. Again, explain it to them simply and honestly and most kids will understand the difference.

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I am new here, but this topic caught my attention. I am a Pagan, and a mother of two children (ages 8 & 9) and living in the bible belt. I believe that religion is an issue in raising children, no matter where you stand on the whole deal. A couple of years ago, I thought I was doing my children a favor by not discussing religion (including my own beliefs) in hopes that they would be able to grow into their own belief system without being pushed in any one direction. BOY! Did that ever come to bite me in the butt! One day I was confronted with two hysterical children running to me off their bus, telling me that their "friend" had told them that if they did not accept jesus, that they were going to burn in hell. Let me tell you, I was livid. So, after talking with them and calming them down, I find out that this child (who was a "big" kid of about 10 according to my kids) had been reading to them out of her book of fairy tales every day on the hour long bus ride home. Because small children are so accepting of most things as truth, it took me almost a month to undo what this little girl had done. As a side note, this girl is one of 7 children in a fundamentalist family and her and her siblings run around preaching to any other kids who will listen.

So now I do discuss religion with my children. I think it is important to teach them about religions because they will encounter them no matter what your own beliefs are. As far as being "cruel" to tell them there is nothing bigger out there, no. I think it is more cruel to have them believe that there "is" some all powerful being out there, only for them to come to the conclusion that there isn't. If my children do come to that conclusion, and I have told them there was a big powerful diety, then they will also come to the conclusion that I lied to them. So, I tell them what I believe and that other people believe different things. I have also learned that you can not be affraid to say "I don't know", to me it leaves them an opening to find out for themselves.

I think it is important to share with them all the information you have, at an appropriate pace of course not all at once, and let them make up their own minds.

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In many places in Europe, even in countries that are supposed to be Catholic, you'll see 3 year olds pointing at a Nativity scene and going "look, it's a little baby!" having no idea it's Jesus, let alone who the fuck Jesus is in the first place, and everyone around them will just laugh and think it's cute. I'm not kidding or making that up, either. I think this is much more a pressing concern here in the United States.

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Before this even happens though....teach them about science. Be real. Don't dumb things down. Just be real. This is what my parents did for me. When the child asks what happens when you die....simply tell them what happens. Your body rots in the ground....but you won't feel it, because you're dead. If they ask what it's like to be dead, simply say that NO ONE REALLY KNOWS. And no one really can.

This. So very, very much this.

 

Not only is the truth about human perception being limited valuable...what would you rather tell kids?

 

Santa and Jesus are all warm, fuzzy, and "magical".....but there is then the problem of the opposite side of the coin (and you can't have warm fuzzy god without it). You really wanna tell a kid that people without Jesus go to hell when they die? I really hope you enjoy soothing Night Terrors if so. Because kids can have truly horrific dreams where Wuzzy Fuzzy has never tread.

 

All the pink fluff, soft blankies, and dumbed down baby-talk in the WORLD cannot shield a kid from the dark terrors borne in their own imagination.

 

Drives me a little nuts...all the focus on trying to help kids cope with the world, or NOT if they happen to go to a really bad public school.... but one area left badly unattended to most of the time, is teaching a child how to cope with themselves. Not all of them can run to a parent's bedroom all the time to dispell the darkness. Sometimes you get trapped in your bed covered with snakes or spiders (sleep paralysis).

 

Children come up with enough horrors without adding Hell to the mix.

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Gods, but I want to live in Europe.

 

Oh, believe me, they have their fair share of religious bullshit, too. Even in countries like Denmark, kids get subjected to "compulsory" religious instruction by the state churches. Sure, the kids' parents can pull them out, but then you end up being seen as a weirdo by your peers. This is the case even though the vast majority of Danes put Jesus in the same category as the tooth fairy. I've had people from over there say they envy the legal "wall of seperation" we have between church and state.

 

But still, it's night and day.

 

And I laugh my ass off, because they have no inkling whatsoever what it's like to live in the Bible Belt of the United States, which is perhaps one of the greatest sociological aberrations in the contemporary West. :lmao: Hell, I as an American don't even know what it was like. I was fortunate enough to have been born and raised in Southern California. SoCal does have its fair share of fundies despite popular belief, but aside from a few shitty Mormon towns in the desert, or some of the beach towns south of L.A. (Rick Warren country), or Bakersfield (California's own little piece of Oklahoma), they're fairly well contained. And now I'm in Vegas, which is just as godless and wretched as is popularly believed. Kids that grow up here are so sheltered from religious bullshit and cultural conservatism that the rest of you would be god damned envious. One reason why many feel that local rock bands in Las Vegas tend to suck is because the kids have nothing to rebel against! :lmao: Can you fucking believe it!? :lmao:

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Hey, at least they have an excuse. There's plenty to rebel against in Mormon Land, but all the local bands out here still suck.

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Hey, at least they have an excuse. There's plenty to rebel against in Mormon Land, but all the local bands out here still suck.

 

Chalk it up to geographic and cultural isolation. A buddy of mine from back in L.A. passed through SLC once and he said that kids there were still wearing parachute pants! :eek:

 

Also, I've never been a fashion hound by any means, but when I first moved to Vegas I was like "why the fuck does it look like it's five years ago?" It then dawned on me that people five years younger than me in Las Vegas were dressing in roughly the same way that most people my age back in L.A. were dressing five years ago. Also, a friend of mine from Bakersfield told me that when he was in high school, he would drive down to L.A. and go to any old Footlocker at any generic shopping mall within any generic neighborhood within the vast, vast city limits. When he went back up to Bakersfield all the other kids at his high school would be all "holy shit!!! Where the fuck did you get those shoes!?!?" Crowding around him to gawk and everything. But to those of us who were from there, they'd be ordinary, unremarkable sneakers that you got at Footlocker so that you wouldn't get in trouble in gym class.

 

I found out later that L.A., New York, and a few other "hip" coastal cities are test markets for the latest fashions, trends, and things. Chicago is the test market for video games because it gets so fucking cold in the winter and nobody wants to go outside. Ohio is the test market for junk food; for example, they'll get a new soft drink like Code Red five years before anyone else. This is because Ohio is so generically American that if it catches on there, it'll catch on anywhere.

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I do not plan on bringing my kids up religious if I ever have any, however I would take them to church when they're old enough to have the experience if that's what they wanted. I would prefer to raise my kids to think for themselves.

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Earlier tonight I was babysitting a 5 year old girl. I was putting her to bed, and she was talking about my contacts. She said "Your 'tacts are invisible, just like Jesus." And I just made an agreeing noise and told her it was time to go to sleep. Even though I'm AT LEAST 5 or 10 years away from having kids of my own, it got me thinking about what I will teach them about religion. It seems almost cruel to tell a little kid there's nothing bigger or more powerful out there; I don't want to take away something that makes them happy. But I definitely do NOT want my children brainwashed the way I was, and probably most of you all were too. I don't know; it's a tough issue I guess. I've always thought I would let my children make their own choices about religion, but parents have a HUGE influence in what those kids grow up to believe.

 

So for those of you with young kids, what do you tell them about god and religion? Anything?

 

Depending on your denomination, talk about religion can be very scary to kids. There's this big *god* who's watching over me all the time and will send me *to hell* if I misbehave. Unless you believe in the authoritarian way of raising kids, I think that's unlikely to be in alignment with the rest of what you teach the kids.

 

There's a simple test you can use. Ask yourself what will the child think when they find out you were lying to them?

 

Most kids find out that Santa isn't real, but, hey, they got lots of presents so it's okay. That's very different than finding out that you were terrified for years for no reason.

 

As for what I told my daughter, I told her that some people believed that there was a being named god etc. etc. etc.

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What the hell's the point of telling them about God anyways? I honestly don't get it. Is it so that they'll fit in at preschool!?

 

I say, wait for them to come home from school one day and ask you the question. Then tell them the truth.

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